By WBØRUR, on the scene
ORANGE PLAINS, Kansas — Amateur radio operators listening in on 3.875 MHz last night may have been surprised at what they heard crackling through the airwaves as hams across the country celebrate the yuletide season.
For weeks, Robert Von Werther and members of the Sunflower State Amateur Radio Club have been planning a “Nativity Scene Net” on 80 meters as part of their Christmas holiday observances.
“One year, we sent QSL cards from Christmas City, Kansas,” says the 58-year-old beet farmer. “Another year, we activated a special event aboard a Christmas parade float. But we really knocked it out of the park with this live nativity net.”
Enlisting the help of ham radio operators across the United States, amateurs were assigned various “roles;” each required to send specific transmissions “to tell the nativity story” as recounted in the New Testament Gospel of Luke.
“It was heartwarming,” says Von Werther. “I cranked up my vintage Hammerlund HXL-1 and blasted over 1500 watts PEP of Baby Jesus across the ionosphere.”
Participants recited their designated lines, but ended each transmission with a callsign to keep the net “legal.”
But not all went as planned.
Ham operator Gregory Boatwright in Salisbury, Pennsylvania says he was listening into the “nativity net” as the ham portraying The Angel Gabriel concluded his monologue to the shepherds…and finished his transmission with a series of off-color comments when his PTT stuck open.
Worse, one ham says he received an FCC citation.
“I got a pink warning slip in the mail from an Official Observer,” says Winston Northridge of rural Manchester, Utah. “I had to call the OO on the phone and explain that the word ‘ass’ referred to a donkey-like animal and was mentioned in the Bible.”
Von Werther says his club is now working on an 80 meter “Passion Play” for the Easter season.